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10

thursday

If you had your picture taken playing Texas hold ’em with a waxen Ben Affleck at Madame Tussaud’s in Las Vegas and thought it a novelty, don’t tell Kate Berridge. Her compelling Madame Tussaud: A Life in Wax details the strange life of an innovative entrepreneur who pimped history as a carnival attraction against the harrowing backdrop of revolutionary France. Turns out Tussaud, with P.T. Barnum–esque savvy, molded her unusual medium into a brand that’s outlasted four French Republics by giving the unwashed masses a whiff of interaction with the famous and infamous. Wax sculpture has since been relegated to the spot next to the two-headed calf at Ripley’s Believe It or Not, but Tussaud—whether faithfully recreating royal coronations or fashioning the death masks of guillotined nobles for her Chamber of Horrors—defined popular perception of what we now call the news and set the stage for Warhol’s cult of celebrity. Berridge discusses and signs copies of her work at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 418 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 638-7610. (Justin Moyer)